Review: Internet Explorer 9

Microsoft has just taken the beta tag off of Internet Explorer 9. Last September, they launched the IE9 beta, touting all kinds of enhancements and changes and challenging people to give IE another chance. I took that challenge last year and used it exclusively for a week. After doing a little visit with it again, I can yet again shock myself by saying this: It doesn’t suck.

Internet Explorer has long been a joke of a web browser. Using it comes natural to most people, seeing as it’s the browser your computer most likely comes with. Despite a lot of people jumping ship to Firefox and Chrome, IE has maintained its dominant position of King of the Browser Marketshare. The browser has been plagued with so much lag, obnoxious toolbars, and security holes that it became a sign of computer illiteracy to still use it, especially an older version like IE6.

IE9 changes all of that. I spent a full week using IE9 exclusively. I’m a huge fan of Google’s browser, Chrome. It reaches amazing speed (like Opera) without losing out on any functionality (unlike Opera). I had expected a large drop of that speed I became so accustomed to, and I was pleasantly surprised to not experience much of a performance decline. It is overall slower than Chrome, yes, but it’s leaps and bounds faster than IE8 was. A lot of stuff was done under the hood to help with this, but mostly not having 8 million toolbars helped speed things up. While Chrome still wins in most (if not all) browser benchmarking tests, IE9 holds its own still. I tested how long each browser took to load up this site. The results:

Chrome: 2.4 seconds
IE9: 3.4 seconds

The look of IE9 is really where the biggest changes are. In many ways, they took a lot of cues from Chrome’s minimalistic look. Gone are the days of managing a bunch of toolbars. They are all pretty much gone. All you’re left with is a single line of navigational buttons, the URL bar, and your tabs. This allows for a lot more content to be displayed at any given time. The URL bar can also directly start searches for you using whichever service you like (though Bing is of course the default).

One added feature I love about IE9 is pinning sites to Windows 7s taskbar. While Chrome can do this as well, IE9’s pinned websites allow for additional functionality. For example, if you pin Twitter to the taskbar, you can right-click it and options to jump right to your mentions, direct messages, and search are available, not just “Open Window”.

Internet Explorer 9 is definitely worth the download, especially if you’re still using the old version of it. While it won’t make me leave Chrome for good, it definitely is a nice alternative. You can download it yourself now here. Let me know in the comments what you think about it!

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